It’s a funny thing being the fan of a sports team. Perhaps for some people it’s simply blind faith and that seems a really great way to go. Yet I continue to experience my fan paradox within the context of engagement as I travel down the path of fandom. Additionally, the community and social aspects of being a fan are a great deal more apparent now than during my childhood enthrallment.
I was spoiled in my youth to be best friends with a guy whose Dad was a Miami Dolphins season ticket holder. All-Pro offensive guard Larry Little, his Mom was my grandfather’s charge nurse in the hospital when my grandfather was chief of surgery. There were all these connections at a time the Dolphins ran through the season undefeated on their way to the only perfect season in NFL history. Where can you possibly go from there as a fan?
As I grew to adulthood and began competing in my own sport with fair success, I determined that it was far more desirable to be participating in a sport than to watch from the sidelines. Football games, baseball games, most sports in general had no effect since I was not involved. Pro sports were viewed from the perspective of simply appreciating great athleticism, picking up nuances of movement, strategy, or inspiration. Yes, the Olympics were always a draw due to the elite level of all the athletes. The outcomes really didn’t matter that much though. Why watch when you can compete?
Although living quite a bit of time in San Diego, the sports scene there never resonated with me. I did go to a couple of Chargers games and a half dozen Padres games through the years, but even when the Chargers made it to the Super Bowl, or the Padres made it to the World Series, I just couldn’t bring myself to care all that much. My own sport was highly gratifying and time consuming. Since these pro sports didn’t have any appreciable effect on my life, I couldn’t bring myself to spend time watching when I could be doing.
Well then… you see… I went to a Seahawks game back in 2010. Last game of that season screaming at the top of my lungs, the paradox of my fandom rose like a phoenix from the ashes. As a fan you are essentially watching, not involved in the competition. Here I was in Seattle and collectively, the fans present at the game were involved in determining the outcome. There was a passion and an engagement I’d never seen before and I was hooked. The fact that the Seahawks got so good was excellent, but to my thinking marginally irrelevant. We were all atop a then tiny snowball, about to roll down a big Super Bowl hill.
My paradox still exists, I still compete in my own sport and love every second of it, but I would still rather be on the field competing than watching. At least it feels as though I have an effect at a Seahawks game, and everyone in our community loves the Seahawks. Around the rest of the country, most folks like to hate the Seahawks which is pretty cool! No paradox there – just bring it. I’m in.
Hi, I’m Tony. I started with Verity in July of 2013, working with CUHMS in the Servicing Department as the Mortgage Servicing Supervisor. I spend much of my free time competing in flying disc sports, mostly freestyle Frisbee these days. I’ve traveled all over the world and most enjoy traveling to anyplace I’ve never been before (of course there are spectacular exceptions). I enjoy photography, art, dance, science, nature, and flying of any sort. Before moving to Seattle a year ago, I lived in San Diego; before that was Miami, with a stop in Gainesville, Florida on the way to San Diego. I became a huge Seahawk fan in 2009 after being a Dolphin fan from the glory days. I fell in love with the astoundingly beautiful country in the Northwest while visiting friends and practicing freestyle over the past few years and finally decided to move in 2010. Now having lived in three of the four corners of the US, I plan on retiring in Maine years from now. Hope you enjoy the writing.